UPDATE: Former Mingo Co. Chief Magistrate 'Big Dal' Toler sente - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Former Mingo Co. Chief Magistrate 'Big Dal' Toler sentenced to prison for election fraud

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Dallas 'Big Dal' Toler appeared in federal court Monday in Charleston to enter a guilty plea. Dallas 'Big Dal' Toler appeared in federal court Monday in Charleston to enter a guilty plea.
Dallas 'Big Dal' Toler after being arrested in connection to a cocaine distribution case. Dallas 'Big Dal' Toler after being arrested in connection to a cocaine distribution case.
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CHARLESTON, WV -

UPDATE:

Former Mingo County Chief Magistrate Dallas "Big Dal" Toler was sentenced to 27 months in prison for election fraud.

The 27-month sentence is much longer than the guidelines suggested for Toler's crime. 

Judge Thomas Johnson handed down the longer sentence because he said he wanted to prevent future fraud in Mingo County and because Toler was arrested for a crime while waiting for sentencing.

Toler pleaded guilty to election fraud in December last year and was accused in a cocaine distribution case in Feb. of this year.

Toler faked a voter registration application during the 2012 primary election for a convicted felon, still on probation, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Toler apologized for his crime and asked the court for leniency in a statement made to the court today. Toler also asked the court to take into account a medical condition involving his foot.

The court will consider a furlough for Toler to have another doctor give an opinion on his condition but Judge Johnson said he believes the U.S. Bureau of Prisons can handle Toler's medical situation.

Toler is the second Mingo County official to be sentenced as part of a large corruption case brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office.  Two more officials, former judge Michael Thornsbury and former county prosecutor Michael Sparks, will be sentenced in April.

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ORIGINAL:

Former Mingo County Chief Magistrate Dallas 'Big Dal' Toler pleaded guilty to election fraud Monday morning.

But first, he wished his mother a happy birthday.

"My mom's 69," said Toler, upon arriving at the federal courthouse in Charleston. "Ain't it wonderful you make it that long?"

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Ruby filed an information in federal court in October, charging Toler with one count of voter registration fraud.

When an information is filed, it typically means a defendant has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.

Court documents indicate Toler falsified a voter application in Mingo County for the 2012 primary election. He submitted an application for someone who he knew was on probation for a felony.

Prosecutors explained that Toler owns several rental properties in the Mingo County area. In April 2012, Toler traveled to one of these units to collect rent. He then met an individual who he learned was on probation for a felony.

It's illegal for convicted felons to vote in elections.

Later on, Toler told the person he could register the individual to vote in the 2012 primary, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Thanks to Toler, the person obtained a voter registration card and illegally voted in the elections. The magistrate even included a false statement claiming the individual was not on probation.

Toler resigned from the bench minutes before Ruby filed the information Oct. 9. The West Virginia State Supreme Court appointed former Putnam County magistrate Kim Blair to temporarily fill Toler's seat.

"The people of Mingo County are fed up," said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. "They're tired of these shenanigans."

Toler rigged the process to ensure he and other "cohorts" stayed in office, according to Goodwin. As of April 2012, Toler belonged to the political campaigning and fundraising group known as "Team Mingo."

Toler did not respond to reporters' questions about whether he knew his actions were illegal.

"I have no comment, honey," he said, walking toward his car after the hearing.

Toler's wife, Dollie, commended prosecutors on their professionalism during the ordeal. She added the family is focused on "looking forward."

"This is just another bump in the road," she said. "We're from Mingo County, we can survive anything."

Dollie said they'll stay in Mingo County for family reasons, but Toler will look for work in the area.

Former Mingo Co. Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury appointed Toler to the chief magistrate position in January 2012. He succeeded the late Eugene Crum, who won the sheriff's race that year.

Toler became the fourth Mingo County official to plead guilty as part of an ongoing federal probe.

In October, Thornsbury pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive a man his constitutional rights.

Former Mingo County Commissioner Dave Baisden pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge within the same week.

Former prosecutor Michael Sparks pleaded guilty to his federal charge in November, when he admitted to depriving a man his right to counsel.      

Toler could face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Johnston will sentence Toler on March 10, 2014.